Roosting time for flying-foxes

It may not be a common sight but this kind of phenomenon that usually takes place during this time of the year is interesting to watch as flying-foxes come in large numbers on the vast Camphor trees (Cinnamomum camphora) adjoining the Rhino War Memorial for roosting.
The place where a bat lives is called its roost. Bats need different roosting conditions at different times of the year and they will often move around to find a roost to meet their needs. Some bats prefer big branches or hollow trees, some like caves and some use both at different times.
Bats are also found sheltering in buildings, under the bridges, roost in built structures and in underground sites. For several weeks in summer, female bats gather in a maternity roost to have their babies.
The above scene that has been spotted recently are no other than the flying foxes and are the genus of bats which are among the largest in the world. They are commonly known as Fruit Bats or Flying-Foxes among other colloquial names. They live in the tropic and sub-tropic of Asia (including the Indian continent).
A flying-fox has a grey-brown like head, which looks a little like a fox’s head. This is how it gets its name. These creatures have a mixture of golden-brown dark coloured fur on their whole body and legs, down to their toes. They are about a foot long with a dark coloured wingspan that can be up to a meter wide.
Although flying-foxes are commonly known as fruit bats, their favourite food are usually pollen and necter of eucalypt blossoms, followed by other native hardwood blossoms, such as melaleuca (paperbark) and banksia. They also eat fruits and flowers.
Bats are the only mammal capable of sustained flight and the flying foxes too are like other bats with flappy wings or powered flight. Despite the noises of cars plying on the road near the Rhino War Memorial, the flying-foxes continue to roost in different postures as seen in the photographs.
The Rhino War Memorial (also known as Rhino Prerna Sthal) is a solemn site built in honour of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Bangladesh war in 1971. It may be mentioned that the military of 101 Area Shillong holds the high esteem of being the first tactical force to enter Dhaka for liberation of Bangladesh on December 16, 1971.

(Contributed by
Michael Shylla)

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